February 12, 2011

2/11/11 – Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 is just outside the town of Oracle, AZ…that’s as close to another Oracle project as I ever want to get.
In the early ‘90s eight people were sealed inside this huge greenhouse to conduct experiments for 2 years.  There was a lot of publicity at the time that the project was a failure because it wasn’t totally self-sustaining.  But they lived in it for 2 full years—and they learned a lot of different things.    
We went on the tour through the 5 biomes, down into the tunnels to see the pipes and technical setups, plus out to one of the “lungs”.   Our guide Steve explained a lot about the history of the facility and how it was built, as well as answered questions about the scientists on the Human Mission. 
Near the end of the tour someone asked what they learned during the mission—he said, “They learned that 4 single men and 4 single women cannot live together for 2 years.”   Apparently one of the biggest problems was scientific competition; almost from the beginning, they started choosing sides and it became very antagonistic.  Eventually, after the Mission was over 2 or 3 of them actually tried to sabotage a second Mission, and have been forever banned from the site.
It’s still being used as a big lab—just that no one lives in it now.  The University of Arizona manages it, and there’s a big conference center and hotel associated with it. 
Time Life Book called it “one of the 50 must-see wonders of the world”.  I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it was a pretty fantastic place.  Lots of plants—and lots and lots and lots of windows!
Check out some of these pictures and see what I mean.

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